It is hard to imagine a more-highly anticipated season than this one in Chapel Hill.
The wounds of last year's 20-17 fiasco have improved with time and one of the top-recruiting classes in the country, but losses to programs like College of Charleston, Virginia and Dayton have left fans, players and coaches with a little scar as a reminder.
Friday night, the new-look Tar Heels got a chance to lighten the mood a little and show fans that the anomaly that was last season is a distant nightmare.
Late Night With Roy, UNC's midnight-madness tradition, featured the freshmen class dancing to Miley Cyrus, the sophomores dancing in snuggies, the juniors doing a Jersey Shore parody and Coach Roy Williams donning a fedora and showing off his dance moves with a cane, all while top recruits L.J. Rose, Shabazz Muhammad and Cody Zeller looked on.
But once the one-two steps and cane twirls were over, there was ball to be played and a hungry team to be let out of its cage.
Dexter Strickland paced all scorers in the scrimmage with 16 points as the white team and blue team finished in a 31-31 tie. The 6-3 guard scored in a variety of ways, getting out on the break, using his speed to draw fouls and even connecting on consecutive threes at one point.
Strickland, who spent most of last year learning how to play point guard, has said he is far more comfortable at the two, which he got to play when freshman Kendall Marshall was on the floor with him.
Freshman Harrison Barnes was equally as impressive. The 6-8 wing has an NBA body and an innate court awareness.
He missed his first two shots from point-blank range, but responded by splitting several double teams to get to the rim for a couple dunks and showing off a nice mid-range and long-distance game en route to 13 points.
Senior Justin Knox, a 6-8 Alabama transfer, scored six points but more importantly gave indications that he could be a serviceable option off the bench for a team lacking size.
"He a very good player. He's well-rounded. He does a lot of different things," said junior center Tyler Zeller, who matched up with Knox.
Freshman wing Reggie Bullock had just five points, but hit a clutch three late in the game to tie the score.
Marshall showed he can be a solid facilitator, but there are still questions about his scoring ability, which he didn't do a whole lot to answer by shooting just 0-2.
He also picked up two charges early on when he tried to get all the way to the basket instead of pulling up.
UNC will begin to address these weaknesses when it begins practice Saturday at 11 a.m.
"It's gonna be an intense practice. A lot of defensive stations, but for the most part the same as last year," Zeller said.
"I think everybody's ready to put in the hard work to be successful and hopefully we can do that all year."